Coaches can rail on a player all practice about boxing out, snagging the rebound, and pushing the ball up the court, but nothing will irritate a coach as quickly as a terrible shooting form.
As a fan of college or professional basketball, you may have seen many players whose averages are far above yours shooting in unusual and certainly not orthodox ways — but with many aspects of life, you must know the rules before you can break them. Getting down a fundamentally sound shooting style will allow you to go on to develop a unique style that fits your game.
When basketball was first formed as a sport in the 1890s by James Naismith, most aspects of the game were completely different from what we know today.
One of the most interesting differences is in shooting styles. Early players made around 25 to 30 percent of their shots, and the only shot in which their feet left the floor was the layup. Free throws were shot “granny style,” underhanded from about the knees, and all long-distance shots were released at the chest area with the player’s feet planted.
This style of shooting lasted until the 1930s and 40s, when players like Glenn Roberts from Virginia and University of Wyoming’s Kenny Sailors started to leave the floor when they shot the basketball.
In the modern era of basketball, players are drilled on the jump shot from day one. The anatomy of a good shooting form looks like this: begin with your knees slightly bent, to boost your leap, then grip the ball with just the fingertips of your dominant hand.
Your other hand should be supporting the basketball; it is known as your guide hand. Lift the ball above your head and push off with your legs (most players jump, though if it does not feel natural, you can simply rise off the ground), then snap your wrist while you are suspended in the air, making sure to follow through with your wrist.
Stopping your wrist once the ball is released will actually alter how the ball leaves your hand, and will likely alter its intended course.
There are many proven ways to improve your shooting skills. Start by identifying your shooting weaknesses — do you clank free throws off the rim, air-ball any three-pointer attempts, or fail to bank any layups? You can learn a lot from drills you discover online, especially if you are faithful to practice them on a regular basis.
Shooting around the world, side-step shooting, repetitive banking, and If possible, you should find a personal trainer, someone who is willing to work with you on your shot and give you tips in person.
If simple drills aren’t enough for you, there are many shooting aids available on the market for would-be sharpshooters. Shooting gloves, the “Pure Shot” (which forces the user to only control the ball with their dominant hand), and arc-aids that attach to the rim are all specialized tools that force you to use the proper form.
These do cost money, and while some players find them very beneficial, others might feel that constant repetition of drills will serve just as well.
Once you’ve mastered the basic shot, you can go on to refine your shooting style until you have something as unique as you are. Shawn Marion, for example, brings his knees up to his chest when he shoots, but he boasts an incredibly accurate shooting percentage. Free throw shooting comes in as many styles as there are players in the NBA.
Some more memorable ones are Jamaal Wilkes, who released his shot nearly behind his head; Rick Barry, who underhanded his free throws; and Shaquille O’Neal, who is famous for his career 52.7% free throw shooting and who just tosses the ball at the net.